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Hearing on Mukai Farmhouse postponed until November

A hearing that was to be held Friday over the status of the nonprofit board overseeing the historic Mukai Farmhouse has been postponed until 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, at a courtroom in downtown Seattle.

The hearing before King County Superior Judge Monica Benton was postponed due to a family emergency, according to Rex Stratton, a lawyer representing about a dozen Islanders contending they're the rightful leaders of Island Landmarks. Both sides in the dispute have filed motions for summary judgment, asking the judge to decide in their favor without a full trial.

At issue is whether several Islanders followed Island Landmarks’ own bylaws and legally installed a new slate of officers at a meeting four months ago, as the new board — headed by Islander Glenda Pearson — contends. The prior board, helmed by Mary Matthews, who now lives in Texas, sees it differently, arguing that the group lacked the authority to garner members and hold a meeting to elect new officers.

The Mukai farmhouse, built by B.D. Mukai in 1928, and the traditional Japanese garden, designed by his wife Kuni, were purchased by Island Landmarks a decade ago with $400,000 in public grants. The new group contends Island Landmarks, under Matthews' leadership, has let the property fall into disrepair, failed to uphold its obligations under those grants and "privatized" the nonprofit, co-mingling the nonprofit’s funds with their own money.

Matthews counters that she and her husband J. Nelson Happy used their own money to keep the nonprofit going and that the Vashon group devised a "secret scheme" to oust Matthews and put a new board in place.

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